September - Best Hiking Trails in and Around Whistler and Garibaldi Park
Average low/high valley temps in Whistler in September range from 8c to 20c (46f/68f)
September hiking in Whistler is possibly the best month of all. The snow has melted far up to the mountain tops, yet the temperatures are still quite high. And just like that wonderful phenomenon of May and June, there are no annoying bugs. And with the passing of the first week of September, the summer season officially ends, so the number of hikers dwindles to virtually none by the second week. This is the time to really enjoy the mountains of Whistler.
If you've never had the time or inclination, take 4 or 5 days up at Wedgemount Lake. The seemingly innumerable mountains to climb, glaciers to cross and incomprehensible sunsets to see make this place a phenomenon of the Garibaldi Range. You can even base yourself out of the wonderful Wedgemount Lake Hut. Though with the mild evening temperatures and no insects, sleeping under the stars is an appealing option.
Garibaldi Lake, so frequently busy all summer, now quiets down and regains that desolate feel you come to expect when hiking in Garibaldi Park. A night at Garibaldi Lake, another at Panorama Ridge and a third at Helm Creek via Black Tusk, and exiting via Cheakamus Lake (if you have two cars for each trailhead), is an amazing trip. There is just so much to see in Garibaldi Park, especially in this little Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk region, that a few days is far better than one or two days.
Elfin Lakes at the bottom end of Garibaldi Park in Squamish is also fantastic in September, though still busy on weekends throughout the year. But then it's just that good, and fortunately is expansive enough to accomodate quite a few hikers easily. Squamish also has the Stawamus Chief, the great monolith of rock towering over the Sea to Sky Highway. The Chief and Shannon falls are a great half day trip from Whistler any month of the year.
Closer to Whistler, there are a few, very good, dog friendly hikes. Ring Lake and Conflict Lake up in the Callaghan Valley, south of Whistler and very beautiful and amazing in September when all the lingering snow has melted. In 2011 Ring Lake was still frozen in mid August!
Brandywine Meadows is a great hike in September as well. Dog friendly and though a muddy trail much of the summer, comparatively dry in September and still alive with beautiful flowers. Brew Lake is another dog friendly, though fairly tough hike, with beautiful views down to Daisy Lake from the trail. Brew Lake is another lake often frozen in July still, so September makes it a great one to try. The trailhead, a bit surprisingly, is not far from Brandywine Falls, and in fact most park there to begin the hike. Don't expect any facilities on any of these three beautiful hiking destinations. They are well off the beaten track, not in Garibaldi Park, and wild, desolate and beautiful.
For a look at the best dog friendly hikes in Whistler check here.. And the best easy and short dog friendly hikes in Whistler here.. For a good summary of the best of the best hiking in Whistler take a look at the best easy hikes here.. and the best moderate to difficult Whistler hiking here..
September at Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park is amazing
If you were to search your whole life for an absolutely amazing, astoundingly perfect, alpine hiking paradise, you'd have trouble finding a place as great as Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park. To start with, the lake is breathtaking. Every angle you look at it and every hour of the day it alters its appearance dramatically. From its wonderful turquoise, marble-like appearance reflecting bronze mountains at sunrise and sunset. To its startlingly vivid appearance in the darkness of night. Reflecting stars are as clear looking down on the lake as they are looking up at the sky. The massive valley that contains Wedgemount Lake is ringed by impressive mountains and the ever-present Wedgemount Glacier that continuously pulls your attention to it. The trail that leads around the lake to the glacier takes only 20-30 minutes and is quite amazing to explore. Wedgemount Glacier, at its edge, has what is called a glacier window. A huge ice cave, created out of the melting underneath this huge, crushing mass of ice. You can get right up close to this impressive ice cave and have a drink of what was just moments before ice left thousands of years ago before Wedgemount Lake was called Wedgemount Lake. Though glaciers can never really be considered safe to hike on, the Wedgemount Glacier is relatively safe. Hiking up the glacier by bearing left, close to the rocky edge will lead you after about an hours, very strenuous hiking to the top of the glacier into the Wedge-Weart Col. Wedge Mountain is the highest mountain in all of Garibaldi Park at 2891 metres, and Weart is the massive mountain to the left of Wedge if looking from the lake. The hike to Wedgemount Lake is difficult. Though no technical skill is required it is constantly steep. You gain 1220 metres in just 7k trailhead to lake! The trail is well marked though and easy to follow. There is also an amazing hut at the lake free to use by anyone.
Why should you hike to Wedgemount Lake?
One of the most spectacular hikes in Garibaldi Park. Close to Whistler, the trailhead is only about 10-20 minutes away. Though the hike is hard and steep, it is short. A fit person can hike the trail in under 1.5 hours (one way). There are endless mountains, glaciers and hidden trails to explore. Wonderful and free hut to use with a million dollar view of the lake.
Russet Lake in Garibaldi Park is an amazing September hike in Whistler
Russet Lake, in Garibaldi Park is the wonderfully expansive hiking area located just a few spectacular kilometres from Whistler. Among the various ways to reach Russet Lake, possibly the most impressive are the approaches from either the Musical Bumps Trail or the High Note Trail. Both begin from high up on Whistler Mountain. Musical Bumps starts near the Roundhouse on Whistler and the High Note Trail begins at the top of Whistler near the Peak Chair. Though Russet Lake is not terribly impressive in terms of size or colour, the valley around it is remarkably beautiful. The colours change from moment to moment in and extraordinary way. The distinctive colour of the Fissile and the stark grey of the mountains around contrast amazingly with the blue of the lake and green grass in the valley. So many different factors fill the place with colour. There are, in fact, several ways to get to hike Russet Lake. The Singing Pass Trail from the base of Whistler Mountain near the Whistler Gondola. The Musical Bumps Trail that begins near the top of the Whistler Gondola. The High Note Trail that begins at the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain. There is an increasingly popular route that begins from Blackcomb Mountain. And finally, a very infrequently hiked route from Cheakamus Lake that runs along Singing Creek. Russet Lake is a beautiful place to camp. It has a wonderful hut available to use by anyone. It is a basic wooden hut with no facilities, but surprisingly comfortable. It holds up to 12 crowded or 8 comfortable. There is also an outhouse and a beautiful stream that runs along the massive camping area. There are no tent platforms but over a dozen tent clearings. There is a considerable amount of exploring available in the valley around Russet Lake. The fissile is a difficult but very feasible hike from Russet Lake. Below Russet Lake is a very accessible glacier as well as a bonanza of glacier formed landscape features, inviting hours of interesting exploration. Above Russet Lake there is a beautiful snow covered ridge that commands incredible views all around and if you have the energy makes for a spectacular tent site.
Why should you hike to Russet Lake?
Russet Lake is certainly one of the most amazing places in Whistler to hike. The various routes to reach it allow for not retracing your steps and instead doing an interesting circle route. Though you have to pay to ride the Whistler Gondola if hiking there via Musical Bumps or the High Note Trail. If you hike in reverse via Singing Pass Trail and returning by the Musical Bumps Trail you can ride the Peak Chair and Whistler Gondola for free. 's
Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Park in September is a fantastic hike
Panorama Ridge is arguably the most amazing hike in Garibaldi Park. It certainly is in the top 5 of the best hikes in Whistler. Usually accessed by the Rubble Creek (Garibaldi Lake) trailhead, just off the Sea to Sky Highway 30 minutes south of Whistler. The hike to Panorama Ridge is comparatively long at 15k trailhead to ridge, but there is plenty to marvel at along the way. Though the first 5k is fairly uneventful as you gain altitude via several deeply forested switchbacks. After the switchbacks you come to a fork in the trail. You can take either fork to reach Panorama Ridge. The left fork takes you through the beautiful Taylor Meadows Campground. In the summer this area is flower-filled and beautiful in every direction. The campsite stares up at the iconic Black Tusk. The right fork takes you first along the Barrier. An extraordinary buttress of rock that holds back a potentially devastating debris slide. You may have noticed the trailhead sign indicating that camping at the parking lot is prohibited as it is directly in the path of a potential debris flow. Past the Barrier viewpoint you can take a short side-trail to Garibaldi Lake or continue on and eventually the forked trail that led to Taylor Meadows meets with the Garibaldi Lake trail and the single trail continues to Black Tusk and then Panorama Ridge beyond. The trail(s) from the fork until Panorama Ridge is a continuous marvel of alpine creeks, views of distant mountains, turquoise lake views and rarely boring. The final hike up Panorama Ridge is fairly steep. Though there is no scrambling involved a couple sections of lingering snow require hiking up fairly steep, hard snow trails. Still, with the steep sections you still see people of all ages making the journey, though be prepared for a long hike as 15k one way translates into 4-5 hours, trailhead to summit for the average hiker. That's possibly 10 hours of moderate and at times exhausting hiking if Panorama Ridge is hiked in one day. Camping at Taylor Meadows Campground or the Garibaldi Lake Campground and making Panorama Ridge part of a multi-day hike in Garibaldi Park is certainly a preferable option.
Why should you hike to Panorama Ridge?
Challenging, long distance hike. Jaw dropping views from Panorama Ridge. Often cited as the best hike in Garibaldi Park. Panorama Ridge is often combined with other hikes in the area such as Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake, over several days of amazing hiking.
Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Park is beautiful in September
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi Park just a short, 16k drive from Whistler Village. The trail to the lake is in an amazing forest of giant cedars. Running along the beautiful Cheakamus River the hike is short and easy. The trail runs along the lake, passing some small, wonderful campsites, and very small beaches. The first 3k of the trail takes you along the beautiful Cheakamus River to the start of Cheakamus Lake and the first campsite area. There are 10 very nice and hidden tent pads on or near the lake shore. There is excellent water from several creeks in the area and a bear proof food hang as well as tidy outhouses here. Another 3k further on the trail takes you to some beautiful viewpoints on the ever increasingly majestic Cheakamus Lake trail. Huge trees, turquoise lake, snow capped mountains, and even the occasional bear siting make this hike one of Whistler's best and most family and kid friendly hikes around. The trail is never strenuous and constantly beautiful with the wonderful smells that come with an old growth cedar forest. The campsite at 6k on the Cheakamus Lake trail consists of another 7 tent sites beautifully blended into the surroundings, another bear proof food hang and outhouse. There are dozens of cute little beaches all along the trail which invite swimming in the crystal clear, though bitterly cold water. Cheakamus Lake has always been known for its good fishing so bring your rod and sit back in the sun. Which you will see a lot of. The entire trail and mini beaches are south facing and capture the sun the entire day. The road to Cheakamus Lake is covered in snow until about mid May every year, but from May to October it is clear enough to drive. There is no charge to park at the parking lot/trailhead, though there is a charge for overnight camping. $10/adults, $5/kid. Take a look at the BC Parks site for info on paying or just pay by cash at the drop box at the trailhead.
Why should you hike Cheakamus Lake?
Beautiful, huge tree forest, easy kid friendly trail, pristine Garibaldi Park wilderness and a spectacular and huge lake. Excellent campsites and numerous hidden beaches and wonderful, though very cold, swimming. Known for great fishing.
September hiking to Brandywine Meadows is amazing
Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. The route is strewn with potholes and some loose rock sections. Brandywine Meadows is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The hike takes you to the beautiful Brandywine Meadows stretching into the distance along a cute, meandering river. The valleys far end leads to Brandywine Mountain. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites. If you plan on camping before mid July, you will likely be on snow as the valley is snow filled until mid summer most years. The meadows are somewhat notorious for mosquitoes so avoiding the area in August is a good way to avoid the swarms. September and even October are possibly the best months to explore Brandywine Meadows. No snow, bugs or hikers to take away from the wonderful solitude of this great spot in the Callaghan Valley. As the Callaghan Valley is outside of Garibaldi Park, dogs a welcome in Brandywine Meadows.
Why should you hike to Brandywine Meadows? Challenging elevation gain, enormous valley to explore, cute river to set your tent up next to. Endless hiking possibilities in many directions from the centre of the meadows. One of the few dog friendly hikes around. Amazing, picturesque valley full of colours.